GJSO closes 39th Season with Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna with the Grand Junction Symphony Chorus

April 10, 2017

On Saturday, April 22nd and Sunday, April 23rd, the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra (GJSO) closes a very successful first season under the baton of Maestro Charles Latshaw with Eternal Light. Both concerts will be held at the Avalon Theatre. Saturday’s performance begins at 7:30pm with the Sunday matinee beginning at 3:00pm. The concert will feature Morten Lauridsen’s choral work Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) with the Grand Junction Symphony Chorus, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten, and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations and the world premiere of Abigail Ligon’s A Star’s Reflection.

The Grand Junction Symphony Chorus is a collaborative work under the direction of Colorado Mesa University Director of Vocal Ensembles Dr. Monte Atkinson which features the semi-professional Western Colorado Chorale and the CMU Vocal Arts Ensemble. The Grand Junction Symphony Chorus performs with the GJSO each season.

Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten is a short canon, written in 1977, for string orchestra and bell. The work is an early example of Pärt’s tintinnabuli style, which he based on his reactions to early chant music. Its appeal is often ascribed to its relative simplicity; a single melodic motif dominates and it both begins and ends with scored silence. The cantus was composed as an elegy to mourn the December 1976 death of the English composer Benjamin Britten.

Morten Lauridsen composed the requiem Lux Aeterna in 1997, the year his mother died. She was the “muse” who introduced him to music, playing swing jazz and singing to him as a toddler. She also taught him to play the piano. The consolation for grief offered by Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna is often compared to that of Fauré’s Requiem and Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, both works inspired by the deaths of the composers’ mothers. The five movements of Lux Aeterna are based on various references to light from sacred Latin texts: perpetual light, light risen in the darkness, Redeemer-born light from light, light of the Holy Spirit, light of hearts, most blessed light, eternal light.

Edward Elgar composed his Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, popularly known as the Enigma Variations, between October 1898 and February 1899. It is an orchestral work comprising fourteen variations on an original theme. Elgar dedicated the work “to my friends pictured within”, each variation being a musical sketch of one of his circle of close acquaintances. Those portrayed include Elgar’s wife Alice, his friend and publisher Augustus J. Jaeger and even Elgar himself. In naming his theme “Enigma”, Elgar posed a challenge which has generated much speculation but has never been conclusively answered. The Enigma is widely believed to involve a hidden melody. After its 1899 London premiere, the Variations achieved immediate popularity and established Elgar’s international reputation.

Abigail Ligon is this year’s winner of the GJSO’s Crystal Baton Composition Competition. She attends Redlands Middle School. Her melody, A Star’s Reflection, was inspired by a trip her family took to Lake Powell.

Eternal Light is sponsored by long-time supporters Chuck & Robbie Breaux, who will also be singing as part of the Grand Junction Symphony Chorus.

Tickets for Eternal Light are $20-$40 for adults and $5 for students with ID. They can be purchased online at GJSO.org, by calling 970-243-6787, visiting the GJSO office at 414 Main Street, or at the Avalon Theatre box office one hour prior to each performance.

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